A NORTH-EAST leisure development has been bought in a £21m deal.

Middlesbrough Leisure Park has been acquired by Legal & General Property (LGP).

Bosses say they have bought the park from Highpoint Estates for £21.25m on behalf of LGP's leisure fund.

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The development, which is in Middlesbrough town centre, includes an 11-screen cinema, a gym and Nandos, McDonalds and Pizza Hut restaurants.

The company says the park generates annual rent of £1.5m.

The site was identified as a potential destination for a new super casino in 2007, after the Government awarded the town a licence to open a building operating up to 150 machines.

Andrew Ferguson, LGP head of leisure, said: “In line with the fund’s investment strategy, the acquisition of this well located, multi-let leisure park demonstrates strong property fundamentals, backed by consistently solid tenant trading performance.

“Furthermore, it offers an attractive income return and the potential to drive rental growth through longer term asset management.”

Formed in 2002, the leisure fund is held through a Jersey Property Unit Trust, which has about £350m assets under management, including 10 leisure assets across the UK.

LGP is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Legal & General Investment Management, which manages about £443bn of assets for 3,100 clients.

Plans for a super casino in Middlesbrough remain ongoing, though political and legal wrangles have delayed work.

Middlesbrough Council previously awarded Stockton-based Jomast Developments approval for a £25m casino and leisure project in the town centre, which could be built on the regenerated Middlehaven site near Middlesbrough Football Club's Riverside Stadium.

Mayor Ray Mallon said he believes the casino could make the town more desirable for some of the 6.5 million people living within 90 minutes of Middlesbrough.